Brian Eno and his New App

Brian Eno is a music god on so many different levels.  He did the glam rock thing with Roxy  Music, worked with David Bowie on the seminal “Berlin Trilogy,” helped to popularise that little-known band called Devo, and was amongst the first proponents of the punk-influenced “No Wave” genre.  Oh, and did I mention Eno produced and performed on three albums by Talking Heads, produced seven albums for U2, and worked on records   by James, Laurie Anderson, Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Paul Simon, Grace Jones and Slowdive, among others?  Then there is the fact that he single-handedly founded the entire genre of ambient music.  To say the least, Eno has a pretty good track record for identifying and creating cool …

Then

Now

Now

… which means we should give a bit of consideration to his futuristic new music app.  Scape’s goal is to revolutionise the concept of the ‘album’.  “Until about 120 years ago,” Eno says, “all music was ephemeral in the sense that you would never actually hear the same thing twice. Recording changed that. You could listen to an identical thing over and over and over again and that’s what all of us grew up doing. Most of our experience is of perfectly repeatable music.”  With the new app, created with musician and software designer Peter Chilvers, the user is able to generate their own ever-changing, continuously evolving “album.”  Scape comes with music, or rather sounds, created by Eno and Chilvers, but the user is meant to think of that piece like a sheet of paper to be written on.  By arranging icons on the screen – an E shape, for example, or a triangle – he or she is able to continuously build new and different musical experiences.  Chilvers explains: “You’ve not just got every track, you’ve got every instrument on that track and, really, every musician playing them. Every piece in Scape is really like a collection of musicians playing together and they’ve got their own rules.”  Eno claims it’s the future of music and listening, others would disagree.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see …

No matter what, it is undeniably, amazingly cool.

 

Kansai Yamamoto

Today I head to Tokyo, so I figure a little Kansai Yamamoto is fitting …

 

Yamamoto was HUGE in the 70s and 80s.  While his creations were worn by everyone who was anyone amongst avant-garde fashion followers, his poster child was David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust years.  Unbelievably amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guy Peellaert

“Guy Peellaert was to Europe what Andy Warhol was to America – except that Guy had more talent!” – Jim Steranko (American comic book artist, art historian, publisher and film production illustrator).

Guy Peellaert was a Brussels-born artist.  He worked as a painter, illustrator, graphic artist and photographer, with shows around the world. Peellaert’s creations are a beautifully unique blend of comic-style illustration, American Pop Art and psychedelia.  He was a bit of a pop culture junkie; the artist survived on a steady diet of music, magazines, books, rock memorabilia, and pulp literature.  Peellaert’s first major success was with a comic strip published in 1966, “Les Aventures de Jodelle,” followed by “Pravda, La Survireuse” in 1968.  His comics were pop art masterpieces filled with sexy heroines kicking all sorts of ass!

Then, In the late Sixties, the artist moved from Brussels to Paris, where he stayed busy doing a bit of this and a bit of that – advertising, set design for casinos and the Crazy Horse nightclub, film and television.  But in his free time Peellaert continued to create art, and he quickly became a popular chronicler of rock and roll gods, painting his idols into fantasy situations come to life.

Peellaert gained such notoriety and success with his pop fantasy creations that he collaborated with British rock writer Nik Cohn to create “Rock Dreams” in 1974.  In a series of 125 paintings, Peellaert painted his heroes in situations echoing their mythical status or playing on their most famous lyrics.  The book was a huge success, and Peellaert became somewhat of a household name.

From there, the sky was pretty much the limit.  Peelaert went on to create some pretty iconic album covers, and movie posters …

Peellaert passed away November 17th, 2008 in Paris aged 74.  In 2003, Peellaert told Beaux Arts Magazine: “I’m not bothered about death. Not having any passion while you’re alive, that’s the terrible thing. That’s why “Rock Dreams” still works today. Emotions keep you alive. Rock will always represent the extravagant, the flashy, the fantasy. These pictures are a memento to that dream.”  Pretty perfect.

Paul Williams Still Alive

Paul Williams seemed to be just about everywhere in the 70s.  Seriously, his resume is insane (just check out his Wikipedia page).  To briefly summarize I will name just a few of his more major accomplishments … He sang with Kermit and the Muppets, he wrote countless pop hits for the likes of Three Dog Night, the Carpenters, David Bowie, and Barbara Streisand, and he also had a few hits of his own including We’ve Only Just Begun, and Waking Up Alone.  Williams wrote the theme song for “The Love Boat,” acted in The Loved OneBattle for the Planet of the Apes, and Phantom of the Paradise, and made a guest appearance (at least once) on just about every 70s TV show you can think of.  And in every appearance, the 5’2″ dynamo sported his trademark Jan Brady do with a pair of aviators and a too-tight suit.

But then, he just sort of disappeared; though, I guess since his presence was so ubiquitous, it would be more appropriate to say that Williams went under the radar.  Either way, if you didn’t look you couldn’t find him.  But one day a filmmaker named Stephen Kessler, who loved Paul Williams as a boy, rediscovered his fallen, forgotten idol on YouTube and decided to make a movie about him.  Paul Williams Still Alive is a pretty perfect documentary – it’s beyond interesting but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and tells a truly incredible story about life after superstardom.  Go see it!

Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Mr. Rodney Bingenheimer

 

You’ve probably never heard of Rodney Bingenheimer, which isn’t surprising really.  He’s always been more of a “behind the scenes” kind of guy, but he has been behind just about every kind of scene.  He is a dedicated rock and roll fan, one of the biggest groupies to ever crash the scene, and while many have moved on from the heyday of the sunset strip, Binghenheimer remains committed … whether anyone cares or not.

Bingenheimer arrived on the streets of Hollywood at 16, and in his own words, he immediately “became the talk of the town because I had the perfect Brian Jones ‘do.”  (And that ‘do remains unchanged to this day!)   He had a seminal presence on the rock scene going back to the mid-’60s, introducing the early ’70s Bowie/Sweet/T Rex glam scene to America via his KROQ radio show and legendarily debauched Rodney’s English Disco club, and later championing punk rock when no one would go near it . Over the course of his career as a professional Hollywood scenester, Bingenheimer has always been at the forefront of musical taste, disovering countless acts from Bowie to Blondie to Coldplay.

Though the Hollywood of Binghenheimer days is long-gone, the radio DJ continues on.  His show has been pushed to the graveyard shift, his celebrity friends have retired, and the music scene has been taken over by manufactured pop icons, but Rodney is still on the strip quietly living his dream as a Hollywood icon …

I think his story is beyond compelling, and there is no better way to see it than on the big screen … or the little one via Netflex on demand.  Check out Mayor of the Sunset Strip, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

David Bowie and the 1980 Floor Show

Yes, I know I write about Bowie quite often, but he is just too cool.  Today’s post is only more evidence of his uniquely charming styles and sounds.  But I will put a moratorium on the Bowie love for a bit after this, I promise!

In October 1973, David Bowie filmed the 1980 Floor Show, a televised stage revue shot in London’s Marquee Club.  The performance was put on to promote the just-released Pin Ups for NBC’s The Midnight Special.  Bowie was in the midst of a transition at the time, from Ziggy Stardust to his Young Americans period, and the 1980 Floor Show is glam rock as avant-garde theater.

 

The performance is a mix of Bowie’s past and future—Mick Ronson’s still there, while the back-up singers are the Astronettes; he wears a succession of utterly outrageous outfits, with a suit mixed in here and there!  1:05 is a real kicker in the next performance …

And the grand finale – Bowie in ostrich plumes and Marianne Faithfull wearing a backless nun’s habit, singing “I Got You Babe.”  Oh yeah.

All-in-all, it’s a pretty mind-blowing event, don’t you think?!

Michael Clark: Punk Ballet

When I think of the ballet I imagine an overwhelmingly civilized, conservative event at Lincoln Center – men wearing tuxedos with their wives in Chanel and Herrera, and everyone watching the dancers moving gracefully, and quietly in a very tight, well-mannered sort of way.  Michael Clark was an insanely talented dancer, accepted to the Royal Ballet School in London at the age of 12, who identified the same characteristics in the world of ballet.  But while most dancers grow into the constructs of the academies, Clark enmeshed himself with the anarchy of 70s London and ran with it.

He created Michael Clark and Company in 1984 when he was 22 years old.  Clark did ballet a different way – the music was punk or rock n’ roll, with Clark consistently collaborating with The Fall, the costumes were Vivienne Westwood, Leigh Bowery, or Bodymap, the sets were beautifully simple, and the dance was wholly unique.

Clark has said, “I strived for a long time to uneducate myself, because punk was about working with very little. But I was really well trained and I had to find a way to work with that rather than against it. I found I could do better working with people who didn’t dance, like Leigh Bowery. But Leigh was absolutely determined to do everything really well. He wouldn’t want to do something badly. His appreciation of the technical content of what I did was a real eye-opener to me, because I thought that in order to communicate with people who didn’t know about dance one had to simplify things; Leigh taught me that you didn’t, that it’s not about that.”

Michael Clark’s genius is pretty undeniable.  He changed the world of dance for those that lived within it, and for the rest of us who considered it from the outside.  There was a great article written about him in the Observer, to read more just follow the link.

TV Party

“I guess it was punk TV. We were anti-technique, anti-format, anti-establishment, and anti-anti-establishment. We liked to break all the rules of good broadcasting. Sometimes we would sit around and say, “Well, what should we do now?” Sometimes we sat there and did nothing. They say “dead air” is the kiss of death in broadcasting, but we liked it. Sometimes we would sit perfectly still like a tape on pause, but it was live.”

-Glenn O’Brien

TV Party was a late 70’s/early 80’s public access television experiment of sorts. Glenn O’Brien created the show that drew a broad range of characters, from homeless guys on the street to David Bowie, Blondie, Klaus Nomi, and Jean Michel Basquiat. The production was terrible and there was basically no direction, but it was a hit none-the-less because it was essentially the epitome of downtown New York City cool.